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The Best Chase Credit Cards of 2016

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Chase has consistently high signup bonuses and rewards rates, but which of its cards is the right one for you? Chase has no-annual-fee options, a standout signup bonus for travelers and a great points program in Ultimate Rewards. Here are NerdWallet’s picks among Chase cards for value and usability.

NerdWallet’s best Chase credit cards

Best for … Card
Travel Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Sign-up bonus Chase Sapphire Reserve℠
Cash back Chase Freedom®
Balance transfers Chase Slate®

Best for travel

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Pros

  • A large bonus
  • $0 foreign transaction fee
  • Cool factor - metal card
  • Rewards redemption bonus through Ultimate Rewards

Cons

  • Introductory annual fee of $0 the first year, then $95
  • Best for savvy travelers

Bonus Offer

Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$0 for the first year, then $95

Intro APR Promotions

N/A

APR

  • APR: 16.24% - 23.24% Variable APR
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named a 'Best Credit Card' for Travel Rewards by MONEY Magazine
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is among the best travel credit cards available anywhere, boasting a huge Chase Ultimate Rewards signup bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Your points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase’s booking tool. There’s also no foreign transaction fee — always a perk for world travelers.

As far as rewards rates, you’ll get 2 points per dollar on travel and dining, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Airfare, hotels, cruises, taxis, rental cars and train tickets are all categorized as travel purchases. Consistent with all Chase rewards cards, you can earn unlimited points, and the points don’t expire. The card has an $0 for the first year, then $95. You can transfer points to 11 frequent traveler programs at a 1:1 rate.

Best sign-up bonus

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Pros

  • Huge sign-up bonus
  • High rewards rate
  • High value benefits
  • Cool factor - metal card
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • High annual fee
  • Needs excellent credit

Bonus Offer

New! Earn 100K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,500 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$450

Intro APR Promotions

N/A

APR

  • APR: 16.24%-23.24% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • New! Earn 100K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,500 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases such as airfare and hotels charged to your card
  • 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Plus, no foreign transaction fees
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,500 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 900+ airport lounges worldwide with complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is designed for people who spend enough on travel to make the hefty annual fee worthwhile. If you travel a lot, take a look at this card’s sign-up bonus. Chase explains it best: New! Earn 100K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,500 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® .

The card offers 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on dining and travel purchases, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. But it’s the redemption value of the points that makes this card so special. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, you’ll be able to redeem points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal at a value of 1.5 cents per point. That means your 3-point rewards rate on travel and dining is worth 4.5 cents per dollar spent.

The card also offers a $300 reimbursement each year for travel purchases, which eliminates two-thirds of the $450 annual fee. There are other perks for frequent travelers as well. You’ll be reimbursed for your application fee for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck programs, and there are no foreign transaction fees. The card also offers access to more than 900 airport lounges worldwide by giving cardholders a complimentary membership to Priority Pass Select.

Best for cash back

Chase Freedom®

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Qualify with Good credit

Cons

  • If you value simplicity, a flat rate cash back card may be better

Bonus Offer

Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR Promotions

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

APR

  • APR: 14.24% - 23.24% Variable APR
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 14.24-23.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like gas stations, restaurants, and wholesale clubs
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee

The Chase Freedom® is an all-around winner with great rewards, a $0 annual fee and a great sign-up offer: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. You’ll get 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories, up to $1,500 spending per quarter, and 1% back on everything else. Here’s the bonus category list for 2016:

Q1 (Jan. 1 – March 31)Gas stations and local commuter transportation (not including parking, tolls or Amtrak)
Q2 (April 1 – June 30)Grocery stores and wholesale clubs
Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30)Restaurants and wholesale clubs
Q4 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)Holiday shopping (specifics to be announced) and wholesale clubs

The Chase Freedom® is the ideal go-to card, versatile and widely accepted. It’s a solid first card, next card, backup card — anytime card.

Best for balance transfers: Chase Slate®

Chase Slate®

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Pros

  • $0 annual fee
  • $0 Intro Fee on Transfers made within 60 days of Account Opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Qualify with Good credit

Cons

  • No rewards

Bonus Offer

Save with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee, 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Plus, receive your Monthly FICO® Score for free.

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR Promotions

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

APR

  • APR: 13.24% - 23.24% Variable APR
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • Chase Slate named "Best Credit Card for Balance Transfers" three years in a row by MONEY Magazine
  • $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Monthly FICO® Score and Credit Dashboard for free
  • No Penalty APR - Paying late won't raise your interest rate (APR). All other account pricing and terms apply
  • $0 Annual Fee

The Chase Slate® is the only card we know of with the rare combination of a healthy introductory 0% APR period, a $0 annual fee and no balance transfer fee for the first 60 days. The introductory APR period — 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 23.24% Variable APR — is good in itself, but it’s even better when you don’t have to pay the upfront fee that most balance transfer cards charge, usually in the range of 3-5% of the transferred amount.

Nerd note: You cannot take advantage of the balance transfer feature if you’re trying to transfer from another Chase card.

Last updated Sept. 14, 2016.